The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Friday adopted the Dakar Declaration that gives women equal participation and full involvement in all peace and security issues in compliance with a landmark UN Security Council resolution.
A UN statement on Saturday said the representatives of the countries adopted the declaration after a three-day forum in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
The was organised to consider how West African countries could effectively implement resolution 1325 adopted by the Security Council 10 years ago. It is considered historic for its recognition of the vital role that women can play in preventing, diminishing and ending conflicts.
'The Dakar Declaration stresses the need for the effective participation of women in peace processes, the protection of women and girls from conflict-related sexual violence,' the statement noted.
It also said it was designed to reduce conflicts through the greater involvement of women in preventive diplomacy.
It emphasised the importance of adequate care and humanitarian services during the relief and recovery periods after conflicts, disasters or other crises.
The statement stated that gender ministers in West Africa have made commitments under the declaration to draw up national action plans outlining what steps they will take to implement resolution 1325 in their countries.
They are also to put up mechanism to monitor and evaluate progress being made.
This process will be shepherded by ECOWAS in collaboration with the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and United Nations Women (UN Women), the new UN entity dedicated to gender issues.
Said Djinnit, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for West Africa, who attended the forum, said the forum represented the first time that such issues were being discussed at the regional level.
UNOWA, which Djinnit heads, organised the forum in cooperation with several other UN agencies, including the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
Others are the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Dakar.